Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Bogus FTC e-mail has virus

The Federal Trade Commission, which has declared war on Internet scams, warned consumers on Monday not to open a bogus e-mail that appears to come from its fraud department because it carries an attachment that can download a virus.

The e-mail says it is from "" and has the FTC's government seal.

But it was not issued by the agency and has attachments and links that will download a virus that could steal passwords and account numbers, the agency said.

"It's a treasure trove for identity theft," said David Torok of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection. "We're concerned. The virus that's attached to the e-mail is particularly virulent."

The agency, which is one of several government agencies investigating cyber fraud, did not know how many people had received the e-mail.

"We've received hundreds if not thousands of calls and complaints, this one may have had a large distribution," he said.

Recipients should forward the e-mail to, an FTC spam database used in investigations.

Nine percent of people surveyed in a poll conducted in August and September reported having had their identities stolen, Bari Abdul, a vice president at security software maker McAfee, said at a cybersecurity conference on October 1.

An open letter to Steve Ballmer

This is an open letter from François from Mandriva Linux Distribution. He doesn't seem happy and if it were me I wouldn't be either. Read for yourself and see how you feel afterwards.

You can find the original letter here.

Dear Steve,

Hi, this is François, from Mandriva.

I’m sure we’re way too small for you to know me. You know, we’re one of these tiny Linux company working hard for our place on the market. We produce a Linux Distro, Mandriva Linux. The last edition, Mandriva 2008 was seen as a pretty good version and we’re proud of it. You should give it a spin, I’m sure you’d like it. We also happen to be one of the Linux companies that did not sign an agreement with your company (nobody’s perfect).

We recently closed a deal with the Nigerian Government. Maybe you heard about it, Steve. They were looking for an affordable hardware+software solution for their schools. The initial batch was 17,000 machines. We had a good answer to their need: the Classmate PC from Intel, with a customized Mandriva Linux solution. We presented the solution to the local government, they liked the machine, they liked our system, they liked what we offered them, the fact that it was open, that we could customize it for their country and so on.

Then your people entered the game and the deal got more competitive. I would not say it got dirty, but someone could have said that. They fought and fought the deal, but still the customer was happy to get CMPC and Mandriva.

So we closed the deal, we got the order, we qualified the software, we got the machine shipped. In other word, we did our job. I understand the machine are being delivered right now.

And then, today, we hear from the customer a totally different story: “we shall pay for the Mandriva Software as agreed, but we shall replace it by Windows afterward.”

Wow! I’m impressed, Steve! What have you done for these guys to change their mind like this? It’s pretty clear to me, and it will be clear to everyone. How do you call what you just did Steve, in the place where you live? In my place, they give it various names, I’m sure you know them.

Hey Steve, how do you feel looking at yourself in the mirror in the morning?

Of course, I will keep fighting this one and the next one, and the next one. You have the money, the power, and maybe we have a different sense of ethics you and I, but I believe that hard work, good technology and ethics can win too.



PS: a message to our friends in Nigeria: it’s still time to do the right thing and make the right choice, you will get lots of support for it and excellent services!

Monday, October 29, 2007

AT&T DSL 1.5 mbps service = 0.3 mbps throughput

AT&T DSL 1.5 mbps service = 0.3 mbps throughput by ZDNet's George Ou -- This hasn’t been a kind week to me when it comes to DSL service from AT&T as I’ve already gone through AT&T DSL setup hell earlier this week. On Saturday when I set up a few extra things for my mother’s home, I ran some DSL speed tests (during non busy hours at a nearby [...]

Friday, October 26, 2007

From Interop, video of Plat’ Home’s Linux Server that fits in the palm of your hand

From Interop, video of Plat’ Home’s Linux Server that fits in the palm of your hand by ZDNet's David Berlind -- Within minutes of arriving on the Interop show floor this morning and beginning my search for something cool to videotape for publication here on ZDNet, we found Plat’ Home’s booth in the back of the exhibitor’s area with two very cool products — both of them tiny Linux servers, one of which fits in the [...]

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Attack of the PDFs

Attack of the PDFs by ZDNet's Ryan Naraine -- Less than 24 hours after Adobe shipped a fix for a gaping hole affecting its Reader and Acrobat software, PDF files rigged with malware are beginning to land in e-mail spam filters.

Dashwire mirrors your mobile phone content to the web

Dashwire mirrors your mobile phone content to the web by ZDNet's Matthew Miller -- I recently had the chance to meet with Ford Davidson from Dashwire to discuss their new free service that is starting to roll out today. Dashwire is a service that mirrors the content on your mobile phone to a personal web account. I personally was quite excited about the service because I see it as a great way to manage my photos taken with my devices, stay in touch with people via SMS when I am at work and on my desktop PC, quickly update and manage my internet bookmarks/favorites, and enter contacts with a full keyboard right from my PC. At this time, Dashwire mirrors your photos, videos, text messages, bookmarks (Internet Explorer Mobile only), contacts, and phone calls.

Build the $340 NAS for half the price but double the speed

Build the $340 NAS for half the price but double the speed by ZDNet's George Ou -- The thing that has always bothered me with the NAS (Network Attached Storage) market for consumers is that it’s very high margin yet the products deliver very poorly on performance. While that might be great for the product manufacturers bottom line, it isn’t so great when you’re the consumer. Typical NAS devices that allow you [...]

Microsoft matters less every 6 months

Microsoft matters less every 6 months by ZDNet's Christopher Dawson -- Maybe not for the average corporation yet, or even the average home user, but every time Canonical releases a new version of Ubuntu (and with it comes Edubuntu), Microsoft becomes a little less the default vendor of choice for educational computing. I’m still 2 years from a major tech refresh, including server hardware and software. [...]

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Ubuntu goes 3-D

The folks at Canonical have started to prepare their servers for downloads of the latest Ubuntu release - 7.10 or "Gutsy Gibbon."

Past Ubuntu releases have been marred by downed servers, as the Umbongo faithful rush to get their fresh code injection. So, this time around, Mark Shuttleworth and crew are doing their outreach early. They've started talking up the OS before it's available on Thursday, hoping to spread out demand a bit.

Read Full Article here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Canonical's new Ubuntu paves way for server push

Canonical plans on Thursday to release "Gutsy Gibbon," the Ubuntu Linux version 7.10 that the company hopes will lay the foundation for a serious push into the server and other markets six months from now.

That's when Gutsy Gibbon's sequel, "Hardy Heron," is scheduled to arrive. Gutsy Gibbon will have the usual Ubuntu support life span--18 months--but Hardy Heron will be the company's second version to feature long-term support, which lasts three years for the desktop product and five years for the server.

Some of the Gutsy Gibbon work involved introducing new features Canonical hopes to stabilize for Hardy Heron, said Canonical's chief executive and founder, Mark Shuttleworth. Take, for example, the "tickless" kernel, which is designed to reduce power consumption and improve server virtualization performance by letting the processor enter a somnolent state more often.

"I'm quite glad we're not trying to make the decision between tickless and long-term support. This is a fairly radical piece of surgery on the kernel," Shuttleworth said.

Among other Gutsy Gibbon developments are snazzy 3D graphics for the desktop version, desktop search called Tracker and the first incarnation of a Ubuntu Mobile version for portable gadgets.

Read the rest of the article here.

All systems go for Ubuntu 7.10 Linux Desktop launch

Canonical, Ubuntu Linux distribution’s commercial sponsor, has announced that the release version of Ubuntu 7.10 Desktop Edition will launch Oct. 18.

Ubuntu, the incredibly popular desktop Linux distribution that seeks to deliver the best of open-source software every six months, will be out in a few days. Gutsy Gibbon Ubuntu 7.10 Desktop Edition includes improvements in advanced plug-and-play printing, enhanced browsing and the option of a smooth new user interface built on top of the latest GNOME 2.20 desktop.

The latest version of Ubuntu includes numerous new features. In particular, its hardware support has been improved. Besides better plug-and-play configuration for printers, the new Ubuntu includes automatic firmware installation for Broadcom Wi-Fi cards.

Laptop users will also be pleased to see improved support for display systems. With Gutsy Gibbon, full external VGA (projector) support is available out of the box, with easy reconfiguration when hardware is switched. For power users, this release includes the ability to manage multiple monitors.

Read full article here.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Knights Templar win heresy reprieve after 700 years

The Knights Templar, the medieval Christian military order accused of heresy and sexual misconduct, will soon be partly rehabilitated when the Vatican publishes trial documents it had closely guarded for 700 years.

A reproduction of the minutes of trials against the Templars, "'Processus Contra Templarios -- Papal Inquiry into the Trial of the Templars'" is a massive work and much more than a book -- with a 5,900 euros ($8,333) price tag.

"This is a milestone because it is the first time that these documents are being released by the Vatican, which gives a stamp of authority to the entire project," said Professor Barbara Frale, a medievalist at the Vatican's Secret Archives.

Read the rest of the article here

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Ubuntu 7.10 Supports Install-Time Encryption

If you have wanted to encrypt your Ubuntu installation on your hard drive quickly and easily, with Ubuntu 7.10 "Gutsy Gibbon" it's become even easier now that the alternate installer supports encrypting partitions. However, the Ubuntu 7.10 "Gutsy Gibbon" Ubiquity installer currently lacks LVM and dm-crypt support.

The Ubuntu Wiki states: "Both the graphical and the alternate installer now support encrypting the hard disk." However, using yesterday's LiveCD with Ubiquity (v1.6.5) still hadn't contained the encryption functionality when doing a manual partition. If the Ubiquity installer doesn't support encrypting the hard drive in time for the Gutsy Gibbon release, we imagine it should ready in time for Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron, which happens to be an LTS (Long Term Support) release.

Read Full Article

Linux Not Ready for the Desktop? Really?

I was somewhat amused to read Michael Gartenberg's comments that Linux is still not ready for the desktop. Please don't tell that to any of the people who last year logged in 40,000 times to the 28 Linux computers at our small town library and community center in Takoma Park, Maryland. These people are using a Linux solution called Userful, which puts up with robust use day in and day out.

What's most fascinating to me is that members of the public have no clue that they're not using Windows. They're able to load up their Microsoft Word files using OpenOffice, and save them back to disk automatically in MS Word format. They surf the web, check email, do instant messaging, view YouTube videos, visit their Facebook page, learn touch typing skills and lots more.

Read Full Article

News- MPlayer 1.0rc2 released

It's been a while, but we are still around and have decided that it's time to funnel our steady stream of daily changes into a release again.

One main source of improvements has, as always, been FFmpeg, which added support for several new video and audio codecs along with speedups and massive code cleanups.

Full Article here

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

'Storm worm' exploits YouTube

Bradley Anstis, director of product management at security firm Marshal, said that spammers are taking advantage of the YouTube function that lets people invite friends to view videos that they have viewed or posted. The function allows someone to e-mail any address from an account.

The scam on Google's video-sharing site is targeting Xbox owners, urging recipients to collect a prize version of the popular game Halo 3. Anstis said clicking on the link to "winhalo3" leads to a file containing a Storm trojan.

To date, Marshal has tracked around 150,000 of the spam e-mail messages thought to have originated from YouTube accounts.

The e-mail messages are exploiting a vulnerability in the sign-up process, according to Marshal, which reported in August a Trojan designed to generate large numbers of Hotmail and Gmail accounts. A similar vulnerability is being exploited in the case of YouTube, said Anstis, adding that spammers have used intelligent character recognition (ICR) software to circumvent the verification system commonly known as Captcha. The Captcha system, in which a person must read and re-enter a selection of blurred or unevenly spaced letters and numbers into a box before being issued a new account--is used to make it harder for software programs, rather than genuine users, to sign up for services.

"There are ways of subverting those sort of systems," Anstis said. "Service providers need to look at how to prevent that from happening."

The YouTube help center also advises people to exclude the e-mail address from spam filtering lists--a fact, Anstis, said spammers are likely aware of.

Security vendor Sophos has also reported the YouTube spam problem. Senior technology consultant for the company, Graham Cluley, said this incident differs from the technique commonly associated with the Storm worm, which typically targets PCs for the job of sending spam.

According to Cluley, the YouTube spamming marks a departure for the junk mailers--instead of using botnets to distribute spam, they can use a familiar Web site to pass on messages.

Anstis said this scam could herald the rise of outsourced bot-herding whereby the botnet controller pays a third party to acquire further bots.

"Now, you can rent time on a botnet network and have a tech support department. If I'm spammer, I would just rent time on a botnet which includes tech support from the botnet owner and a massive resource pool with huge amounts of bandwidth. This may be a third business--selling services to the Trojan operators to help expand their networks. For example, if I own a Trojan network, I pay you 20 cents per bot you get me," Anstis noted.

Microsoft disables Internet Explorer 7 validation process

Tom Espiner of ZDNet UK reported from London

Microsoft will now allow users of Windows XP to download Internet Explorer 7 without having to gain Windows Genuine Advantage authentication.

Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) is part of Microsoft's Genuine Software Initiative. It is intended to help prevent the distribution and use of unauthorized versions of Windows. Previously, to download Internet Explorer 7, users had to authenticate to WGA.

"With today's 'Installation and Availability Update,' Internet Explorer 7 installation will no longer require Windows Genuine Advantage validation and will be available to all Windows XP users," wrote IE7 program manager Steve Reynolds in a blog post on Thursday.

Microsoft said that it had dropped the requirement for WGA for security reasons.

"Microsoft takes its commitment to help protect the entire Windows ecosystem seriously, and we're taking a step to help make consumers safer online," said a representative. "We feel the security enhancements to Internet Explorer 7 are significant enough that it should be available as broadly as possible, and this means removing WGA validation."

The representative said that removing the validation did "not interfere with Microsoft's commitment to fighting software piracy."

However, Tristan Nitot, president of Mozilla Europe, suggested that Microsoft may be concerned over the uptake of IE7. Mozilla develops rival Web browser Firefox.

"I think IE7 adoption is too low according to Microsoft's tastes, partly because many people are concerned with issues with regards to WGA," Nitot told CNET sister site ZDNet UK. "I guess Microsoft's not so happy with the numbers."

There are conflicting statistics available on the popularity of the major Web browsers. For example, according to Web analysis site W3Schools, Firefox has more market share than IE7, with 34.5 percent and 20.1 percent respectively. However, according to Net Applications, Firefox 2.0 has 13.6 percent of market share, while IE7 has 34.6 percent. Both sites indicate that Firefox and IE7 are gaining market share, while Internet Explorer 6 is losing market share.

According to a reader poll on sister site ZDNet, 55 percent of respondents voted that Microsoft had dropped WGA "to try to grow IE7's market share (at the expense primarily of Firefox) by going after the more technical browser audience, many of whom see WGA as little more than another objectionable DRM scheme."

Thursday, October 04, 2007

What's inside your computer mouse?

Ever wonder what's in that thing, but have been afraid to look?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

HP: Linux ready for most applications

Randy Hergett, HP's director of engineering for open-source and Linux organization, said at the Gelato Itanium Conference & Expo in Singapore on Monday that Linux is ready to be used in some mission-critical applications, despite a perception that there are gaps in areas such as manageability.

Linux is "ready for most applications," he said, noting that there are telecommunications companies running mission-critical databases on Linux, and overall adoption levels are ramping up.

Citing an HP-commissioned global study conducted by market-research company GCR earlier this year, Hergett said that three out of five decision makers were ready to deploy Linux for mission-critical applications within the next two years, while one in five saw that happening in five years' time.

According to the study, which surveyed more than 600 decision makers who were using some flavor of Unix, security and reliability were the top two concerns in a mission-critical environment.

On whether Linux can satisfy these two requirements of security and reliability, Hergett said: "It does...From a security standpoint, we think Linux is actually very secure."

"With reliability, I think it's not as robust yet (as HP's own iteration) or some of the other proprietary Unix systems, but it's making great progress," Hergett added.

On whether the availability of different flavors of Linux will affect its adoption for mission-critical applications, Hergett said he did not think so.

"In some ways it actually gives those decision makers more flexibility and more choices to choose from," Hergett explained, adding that Unix has several iterations too, and decision makers are "used to having that choice."

The poor man’s all-in-one PC for $380

The poor man’s all-in-one PC for $380 by ZDNet's George Ou -- Apple has their iMac and Gateway has their One, but both of them are in the $1300 to $2300 range depending on the various options. What about the person on a budget? Can you get something for less than $400? You can but you’re going to have to build it yourself and I really do mean BUILD. It’s [...]